Dor to Dor: ‘Dream Home’ goes beyond square feet

Rebecca Brown

By Rebecca L. Brown

We’re on our fourth house. And our 14th year of marriage.

A stucco duplex. A stone traditional. One in the suburbs. And, now an urban Tudor.


Seven years ago when we were out in the suburbs, I caught Steve surfing the Internet. For houses.

What-cha doin?

Looking at houses. You wanna go look?

Those words still hung in a bubble over his desk as our car sped out of the driveway.

I knew exactly where we were going. For years I had poured over the real estate section. Convinced that the “New Listings” held the key to the Promised Land. Homes with their manicured lawns and invisible-fenced labs lazing out front. Steps from school, the park, the coffee shop.

That night we made our offer on our (very) small corner of that Land.

Our humble Tudor needed love. From its tired curb appeal to its green linoleum.

But we made it ours.

Replacing the linoleum with slate. Hanging the glass door on the marriage-saving second shower. Not to be outdone by the marriage-saving heated front walk that never needs shoveling and the maintenance-free yard that never needs mowing.

Other touches were uniquely mine.

The attic playroom painted sunshine yellow filled with toys that never migrate beyond the steep stairs. The fire engine I painted on Ben’s bedroom wall, next to his tiny fire engine bed. The ladybugs that dance (almost) all the way around Sarah’s room. A project cut short by her early arrival.

Our house. Small but mighty.

Last fall I caught Steve surfing the Internet again. For a new house.

And a fresh start.

A few days later we thought we’d found it. Hearth room, master suite, big closets, a soaking tub.

The next Promised Land.


The dining room was two feet too short. (Or my table was two feet too long.)

Where would we celebrate Shabbat?

This was not my house.

My house was around the corner. On the hill in the shadow of the skyline. With its dancing lady bugs and firetrucks. Its tiny bedrooms and big memories. And the dining room. Big enough for the table. And all the people who sit around it.

That night I thought about what I wanted. And what we needed.

Bigger closets would only be filled with more things we didn’t wear. If I ever had enough time to soak in a tub, it’s unlikely I’d spend it … soaking in a tub.

All I really needed was a kitchen table. A place where the kids could eat grilled cheese. Play Candy Land. Where we could have family meetings. About kindergarten. And curfews. And college.

A simple problem, with a simple fix. A new breakfast nook where we’ll eat and play and talk.

And a lot cheaper than a new house.

Today as I sit in my more love per square foot Tudor I know that I have what I need. Even better. I want what I have.

As far as I can tell, fresh starts don’t fix families. Families fix families.

And family dinners help. At least they do in our family.

Rebecca Brown, a lawyer and the mother of two young children, works as an advisor at Washington University. Rebecca and her husband Steve are chronicling their year of hosting a different family every Friday in 2010 for Shabbat dinner at The Browns live in Clayton and are members of Central Reform Congregation.



 Editor’s note: ‘Dor to Dor’ is an intermittent Jewish Light series looking at various aspects of “grown-up” life and generational connections (“dor” means generation in Hebrew) through the lens of Jewish writers living in the St. Louis area. Some of these columns may deal directly with Jewish issues, other may not, but we hope you’ll find each one informative or entertaining or, better yet, both.

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